Remember travel agents?
Used to be, vacation rentals appeared on lists printed on actual paper, often held close to the chest by travel agents who knew their jobs depended upon exclusive access. Newspapers used to be a thing, too. You could post a simple ad, maybe with a single black and white picture, every week for a few bucks.
And then came the Internet.
Relatively basic websites began to spring up where owners and managers could post a bunch of pictures, and the descriptions of homes and their amenities were allowed to be much more detailed.
Craigslist replaced newspapers as the simplest, least expensive way to get attention for a rental.
The online listing sites came along and integrated advertising, booking and payment processing, which greatly streamlined the process.
Simplicity led to an increase in the total number of rentals on the market, both because it was more practical for people to purchase and rent out their own rentals, thus increasing the total pool, and because consolidation made it possible for consumers to see every listing in each given area, which increased competition.
In recent years, listing sites have continued to expand its reach and its services, and rental company websites have emerged that combine beautifully modern designs with an optimized user interface. The consolidation of rental listings has helped those with the biggest inventories dominate the search engines, further increasing their power over smaller companies and individual owners.
So, what does all of this mean to you, the vacation rental manager? Well, it means that competition has increased, and it’s getting harder and harder to make your listings to stand out.
Whether you’re posting your properties on listing sites, a company page, Craigslist, or a single property website, it’s crucial that your marketing tactics stay ahead of the curve. At this point, pretty much every listing can be found displayed on a well-designed page, with galleries of professional photos, and user-friendly booking systems.
From the perspective of the consumer, there are often dozens of rental options that appear to fit their criteria, and it can be tough for them to tell one from another, especially if they have limited knowledge of the geographic area, which is commonly the case.
So how can you, as a vacation rental manager, make your listings stand out above the crowd and grab the attention of those online consumers? The answer is video.
A home is three dimensional. It flows. Like the human face, its unique lines and curves and corners give it character. Photography is limited to frozen moments, whereas a video allows for movement, letting viewers experience your home in a way that isn’t possible without actually being there.
Combine that with imagery of the surrounding area, and a friendly voice guiding the tour, and you’ve got yourself some extraordinary and powerful marketing. You’ve also got something that most other listings don’t.
Put yourself in the mind of the consumer. Let’s say your search for vacation rentals brings up 50 results. That’s a lot to handle. You click through one, look at the pictures, read all through the description. Then you click on another, and do the same. And then another. And another. And there are still 46 results left. Uggh.
Now, what if you noticed that some of the listings included videos? Don’t you think you’d start with those? According to one study, real estate listings with videos received 403 percent more inquiries than those without. FOUR TIMES as many.
Add to that that YouTube is the number two search engine on the Internet. That means that listings with videos have a 100 percent advantage over those that don’t when it comes to YouTube-based searches. And, Google’s search results now typically include at least one video result with normal text-based search results.
And here’s the best part: video has become incredibly affordable. Independent video production companies have begun to specialize in video production for vacation rentals. While rates vary, they can include everything from basic video footage with music, to narrated tours with graphics, aerials and footage of nearby amenities. Imagine your listing having a permanent commercial that not only presents your rental in the best possible light, but helps it get four times the exposure. What’s not to love?
Rob LeRoy is a writer and video producer from Portland, Oregon. He has worked in real estate marketing for over 10 years. His company, The Real Estate Video Guys, specializes in video production for real estate listings and vacation rentals. Is he a little bit biased? Maybe. Is he right about video? Definitely.